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Letter of Recommendation


accessnash
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Could someone please advise on this -

I have a professor whose class I had taken online in one semester. We had interactions through emails and on discussion forums. I have met him only once. And I had an A in his subject. Would it be ok to ask a letter of recommendation from him ?

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Thanks for your response, Fuzzy. You have been really helpful. Well as for this online course, I had submitted a paper (not in any journal but a term paper) for the course which involved a lot of analytical work. May be he could mention something about it. My concern is that having worked for so many years before going to a MS program now, I don't have many professors to ask a LOR for. 

The other options I'm counting on are to include two professors whose class I'm currently taking and both classes are highly mathematical. I was thinking of asking them after completing the mid-term exam in Nov 1st week so that they have a better assessment of how well I do. I have done quite well in all assignment submissions and have had constant interaction with both of them. I hope they don't deny and expect me to ask after completing the semester. The issue is one of the programs that I really want to go to has a deadline of Dec 12th. My final exams would be over by Dec 11th. I have to tell them by mid-November at least. Do you think that it is likely they will deny too?

A 3rd class that I take currently isn't along my interest areas. I just do enough to get good grades but I have never asked a question in his class. The prof knows me by name, but I'm not sure on what basis I could ask him for a LOR. His notes are very self-sufficient and I never really had a problem in working out the assignments on my own. I have never been to his office hours. 

These 3 academic LoRs are the only reason why I had delayed going for a PhD for so many years and had been working.....till I decided I had enough of mind-numbing work. I'm not used to asking for LoRs ever and do feel shy going up to someone and asking for a reference. 

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Well, you have nothing to lose by asking. You should probably explain your situation, because usually knowing a student for only one semester won't lead to the strongest letter and so your professors may tell you to seek other (better) options, not knowing that they might not exist. I do think it's possible that someone might feel that they don't know you well enough to write you a letter, so this is where it's important that you're very clear about your situation. I think in this kind of case it's crucial to be upfront with your letter writers, and explicitly ask what you can do to help them write you the strongest possible letter. Maybe that means showing them extra work you've done outside of class or talking to them about your research ideas and why you're pursuing a PhD. It takes some willingness on their part to take an extra step, which not everyone will do, but again you have nothing to lose by asking, and the earlier the better, so you leave yourself the most time to do whatever necessary to improve your letter. In addition, since you've been working for a while, maybe you should get one letter from your work, if possible (as a supplement, if your work is unrelated in any way to your PhD plans), just to show more of a trajectory and to get an opinion from someone who's known you longer. 

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Hey, thanks for your advice. I'll probably include my manager at my last job. My PhD plans are in the same line (I was working in FX/Rates business line and my interests are in Financial econometrics), although I wasn't doing research work exactly. He should be able to write a good one, though he is a very busy guy now, with a lot of people having left the team. 

A few programs mention that if one is currently studying, then at least 2 LoRs should be from professors at the current university. Another issue is that I'd also be applying to continue at my current school. So I hope they don't feel bad that I'm more keen on other places (not that I'm guaranteed a place at my current program)

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Are you me? I'm also applying to financial econometrics and currently work on macro products (rates, fx, cross asset) in industry. I'm also from a highly mathematical background. Best of luck with it all!! 

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